MONROVIA – Still basking in the euphoria of a successful visit to the Southeastern part of the country, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has said she is overwhelmed how the re-election bid of President George Manneh Weah has resonated with the people, to the extent that the people are not thinking or talking about any other presidential contender in the ensuing general election other than “giving their own son a resounding victory come October 10, 2023.
Speaking to journalists at her residence on Saturday, April 22, 2023, to provide vital information about the outcome of her visit to the Southeast, the Vice president said she was impressed about the friendly interaction she had with citizens and residents where they spoke their mind about what the government has been doing for them over the years as well as concerns about the challenges they are facing. She said what impressed her most was that despite some of the pressing problems facing them, the citizens showed resilience, happiness and confidence that the government will definitely provide workable solutions to their problems.
“The southeasterners are resolved that President George Manneh Weah is their son and they will give 110% support to him. Everywhere we went there was no disconnect in the message, from county to county, from town to town, from village to village; so, I think the southeasterners are resolved, it is their leader, it is their president and they will give him the fullest support to get to the next term. There are hospitals that are now being built by the German government which once completed will be manned by surgeons and medical staff and these people can just stay where they are to do what they want to do ”, she said.
Speaking about her impression about the visit to the southeast, VP Taylor said that it was interesting to note that throughout her visit and interaction with the people, she realized that despite the challenges the people were going through, they were bold, resilient, happy and very confident that the government under President Weah will provide the workable solutions to their problem.
‘I will say Liberians are resilient people. You see the picture, there was a mood of jubilation and gladness that I had gone to visit them. People were engaged in different activities whether production of coconut oil or the regular palm oil, whether they were selling their things in the market, whatever that was happening, everyone was involved in life. I had every moment to cherish except for a place in Sinoe where the people were sad over the death of former minister Nyepan, other than that, everyone was fully engaged in activities just like we are in Montserrado”, she said.
She said the main challenge of the people from one county to another was the road, adding that she spent about two days to get to River Gee but once one is in the southeast most of the roads are passable between cities. She said despite this setback the people were hopeful that the government will do all things possible within its means to ensure the much-needed road connectivity in the region.
She stressed that getting the major roads done involved processes, mainly with paper work, otherwise the road connectivity throughout the country is on course, such as the Ganta-Harper Highway project.
The Vice President who gave some updates about other projects being undertaken by the government said that outside roads, the people thanked the president for building new schools to ensure that every district should have at least a high school and such project has been impactful to close the gap in the number of educational facilities that should exist in every part of the country
She alluded to the fact that though the government is undertaking massive infrastructure projects, concerns have also been with the provision of trained manpower like specialized doctors and other medical staff as well as teachers to provide instruction to students in the new schools being built. She said the government is deeply aware of the situation and has been taking measures to correct the gap so as to have those infrastructure function according to the purpose they were built for.
VP Taylor said as a sign of appreciation to the government, they thanked the President for instructing the payment of the USD11m needed to pay for the cost of electricity to the Ivorian Energy company which has in no small way spurred economic activities and convenient living condition because “when you are driving to some places you see lights either from the Cote d’Ivoire power supply or the solar light projects that the president launched some years ago”.
Responding to a question of women empowerment in the Southeast, she said it is an ongoing process on the national scene; and that the government has embarked on creating an enabling environment where people are empowered, not just women, but others like young people coming out of school where there must be jobs to ensure that companies coming into the country are also sent to the other counties as it will not be fair to disenfranchise them from benefiting from development which should spread across every part of the country.
“But this also has to involve the private sector because in the public sector, you are in a box that does not expand beyond the limit. We are speaking about public private partnership that will explore in areas such as agro-businesses, such as expanding the cocoa value chain to include packaging, shipment. Thank God most of the Southeastern counties are by the sea, they can produce and ship,” VP Taylor said.
She said it was exciting receiving a delegation from the African Development Bank (AfDB) recently in the country where they discussed the possibility of establishing a Youth Entrepreneurship Bank that will cater to promoting the young people in businesses.
In response to her sanitary pad initiative for girls in schools in the country, Madam Taylor said the project is fast advancing in achieving the desired results. She thanked the Chinese Embassy and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) for the maximum support and encouragement to the project such as expanding the scope of its work by establishing the sanitary pad banks in the various counties to cater to the surging number of girls who are in need of the items.
She also said besides the sanitary pad initiative, her visit to the southeast also afforded her the opportunity to assess the needs of other girl students who equally qualified for her scholarship opportunities where beneficiaries through the country are now up to 1,000 students in various schools.
On the sideline of her briefing from the Southeast, VP Taylor took some time to respond to a trending video featuring Senator Prince Yormie Johnson in which the Nimba lawmaker made some insinuation that the VP has admitted that the government printed money for the sole purpose of being used to bribe voters during the 2023 general election. She denied ever making such an assertion but what she could remember saying at the time about people using money to influence elections was during the 2020 midterm senatorial race in which she was opposed to the re-election bid of former Bong County Senator Henry Yallah who was using money to induce voters.
“Humans have the ability to forget according to time and season. My first issue will be at what time I said that. I said that at the beginning of 2020. I was speaking in Bong so I was very specific. I was speaking to the Bong people, and looking at the way our elections are held, and we all know that during that period, I saw a lot of money being spent in the county and in a way to avert the will of the people and it was in that way I spoke to the people.
“It has nothing to do with money that has been spent in the Central Bank that Senator Johnson was alluding to. It has nothing to do with Hon Thomas Fallah. I was not in his district or in the county where we all come from. I was speaking in terms of who will become senator for 2020 in Bong County and that was my concern.
And I realized that people were spending a lot of money during the campaign period and you look at money being used as inducement to get votes, you will never get what you want and that was how I spoke at the moment. Senator Johnson wants people to believe that it was something that was said recently that has to do with money being printed by the Central Bank of Liberia. That is not true. I was very clear in 2020 that I never wanted Senator Henry Yallah re-elected, and I was speaking to that particular issue,” Madam Taylor stated emphatically.
Answering a question that was posed about the crisis in the National Patriotic Party (NPP) which could affect the chances of the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) in the October 10, 2023 general election, VP Taylor who said she plays a triple role in the party and government as the Vice President, Vice National Chairperson for CDC and Standard Bearer of NPP, noting that as far as the party was concerned, there is a new Chairman, George Mulbah, who has taken the mantle of leadership and is doing extremely well meeting partisans across the country, like in Nimba where he has been in the county to speak and discuss to the huge number of NPP partisans in the county.
She also said that she as leader of the party, she is under obligation to carry on the mandate of the party and speak to group of people and not just individuals on moving the party forward, an apparent reference to a question whether she has personally spoken to Senator James Biney, the former Chairman of the party.
At the end of the briefing, VP Taylor who is running with President Weah for re-election on the ticket of the CDC said that her relationship with the President has improved significantly over time, first, because she has had all reasons to believe in him and what he stands for in terms of changing the development landscape of the country and secondly, she knows her role as a supportive second in command, thus making it easier for the relationship to be on an upward swing.
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